Lynn Tobin Jackson

Community activist, political advocate

Lynn Tobin Jackson, a longtime Claremont resident, died on March 7, 2013. She was 77.

Ms. Jackson was born on February 19, 1936 in Springfield, Illinois to Ruth Ashmore Tobin and J. Willard Tobin. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois and taught English and history for some time, then went on to pursue a PhD in sociology at the Claremont Graduate University.

Wherever Ms. Jackson went, she threw herself into community service. Beginning in 1962, she was an active and longstanding champion of the League of Women Voters. In 1979, she was elected to the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education, serving as board president during her tenure.

Ms. Jackson made a significant impact on the district, according to fellow board member Jim Merrill. She instituted a tradition: During each board meeting, she would make a point of circulating among the audience members so she could hear their concerns.

“She really believed strongly that we needed to listen to what the parents and residents were thinking about our schools,” Mr. Merrill said. 

As a strong supporter of the arts, she fought for programs like the high school theater department. She was also a staunch advocate of athletic opportunities for girls, in an era when Title IX was in its infancy At the time, CHS had only one gymnasium, which was usually used for boys sports such as basketball and volleyball. When the district sold a parcel of the CHS campus to the Griswold’s complex, Ms. Jackson was in the forefront of the campaign to use the proceeds to build a second gymnasium to accommodate girls’ sports. Her priorities showed great foresight, Mr. Merrill noted.

“Claremont’s been blessed with a lot of bright women, and she was certainly one of them,” he said.

Ms. Jackson soon channeled her intelligence in a new direction, returning to school to pursue a law degree at Loyola Marymount University. After becoming a lawyer at age 50, she practiced law at Legal Aid in Compton for 20 years, and was dedicated to the low-income community she served. 

Sandy Baldonado, a Claremont lawyer who attended law school with Ms. Jackson when she, too, was in her 40s, says she was a truly good and decent person.

“Lynn was a brilliant lawyer who, instead of focusing on making money, dedicated her legal abilities to the poor,” Ms. Baldonado said.

Ms. Jackson’s upbeat demeanor was another asset in her profession,  according to another friend, Sue Keith.

“I suspect her clients, the most vulnerable members of society, were comforted by this strong, determined women whose ready smile and sunny personality could turn despair into hope,” Ms. Keith said.

Ms. Jackson subscribed to the COURIER and the Los Angeles Times, reading both from cover-to-cover.

“She would get all riled up and say, ‘Can you believe this?’” her daughter Cynthia recalled.

Politics were regularly discussed at the dinner table, but they weren’t confined to it. As a member of the Claremont United Methodist Church, Ms. Jackson served as the chair of the Status of the Role of Women Committee, was active in the Sanctuary movement and was an advocate for CUMC becoming a Reconciling church.

Whether she was advocating for the hungry and the homeless of this country or for the political refugees of Latin America, Ms. Jackson was always willing to take to the streets to protest, an activity that in more than one instance led to her arrest.

A steadfast champion of human rights, Ms. Jackson also had a soft spot for animals. Growing up, she loved spending time on her family’s farm, where she would ride horses with her grandfather. Horseback riding continued to bring Ms. Jackson joy throughout her life. She kept horses in Claremont for a time and spent many summers at the family cabin in New Mexico, horseback riding, hiking and enjoying the outdoors.

Whatever she did, Ms. Jackson had the support of her husband of 41 years, Steve.

“When I think of Lynn, I think of Lynn and Steve together, good friends to each other and to those of us who have known them well,” Ms. Keith said. “They shared a bond, a commitment to social justice, and both put their principles into action.”

Ms. Jackson not only passed on her commitment to social activism to her children and grandchildren. She inspired all those around her to reach out and lend a hand, said Clara Sota Ivey who, after meeting Ms. Jackson at the United Methodist Church, struck up a friendship that lasted nearly 4 decades.

 “It was her gentleness and kindness that warmed everyone, and her passion for justice,” Ms. Ivey said. “When she saw something that was not fair, she worked towards changing it. She did a lot of good.”

Ms. Jackson is survived by her husband of 41 years, Steve Franklin Jackson; by their 5 children; by her 6 grandchildren and by her sister, Ann Hart, and her family.  

A memorial service for Ms. Jackson will be held on Sunday, March 17 at 3 p.m. at the Claremont United Methodist Church, 211 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Claremont United Methodist Church Homeless/ Hunger committee, 211 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont, CA, 91711.




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